Nauka (ISS module)

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Artist's rendering of the Nauka module docked to Zvezda.

Nauka (Russian: Нау́ка; lit. Science), also known as the Multipurpose Laboratory Module (MLM), (Russian: Многофункциональный лабораторный модуль, or МЛМ), will be a component of the International Space Station (ISS), funded by the Russian Federal Space Agency. In the original ISS plans, Nauka was to use the location of the Docking and Stowage Module. Later, the DSM was moved to Zarya's nadir port and named Rassvet. Currently, Nauka is scheduled to dock at Zvezda's nadir port, and replace Pirs. In earlier plans, the now-cancelled complex of the Universal Docking Module and the two Russian Research Modules were attached there; Nauka has replaced them. Nauka was initially planned to launch in 2007, but the launch has since been repeatedly delayed; it is currently scheduled for launch on the 25th of April 2014 and docking with the Zvezda module on the 4th of May 2014, 2 days after the undocking of the Pirs module.[1][2][needs update]

Original plans for Nauka[edit]

In the 1990s, plans for the Russian segment of the ISS included several research modules that were intended to be adjunct to Zarya and Zvezda. However, the plans changed in the early 2000s. In August 2004, it was decided that Nauka would be built from the modified Khrunichev-built Functional Cargo Block (FGB-2), whose construction has been halted at 70-percent complete since the late 1990s. The FGB-2 was originally made as a backup for the original launch of the Zarya module (the first FGB), and as early as 1997 it was planned to be used as the Universal Docking Module (UDM).[3]

There was an alternate, rejected proposal for Nauka from RKK Energia, based on the cancelled Commercial Enterprise Module (entertainment and studio module), which was to be jointly funded by RKK Energia and SPACEHAB.[4]

Work on Nauka and launch date[edit]

Nauka training mockup at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in April 2012.

At the end of 2005, the European Space Agency (ESA) agreed with the Russians that the European Robotic Arm would be launched together with Nauka, mated on its surface for a later deployment in space. A spare elbow joint for the European Robotic Arm was already launched together with Rassvet.

In 2004, the Russian Federal Space Agency stated that Nauka should be ready for launch in 2007 on a Russian Proton rocket. However, the Nauka project was delayed further, first to 2008 and later to 2009. A November 2006 ESA bulletin mentioned that the RSA was negotiating with the ISS partners to push back the prospective launch date to the end of 2008. In October 2011, it was reported that Nauka was expected to be launched at the end of 2013.[5] In May 2012, it was reported that the launch date had been pushed back to 2014.[6] The next planned launch date was April 2014, according to Vitaly Lopota, president of RSC Energia.[1]

On October 25, 2013, Parabolic Arc reported that Nauka was flawed and had failed acceptance testing. Energia Corp. completed factory testing and returned it to Khrunichev for more work which may take another 12 to 18 months.[2] On November 27, 2013 it was reported that the Russian Space Agency had informed NASA that the launch had been postponed until at least 2015.[7]


Nauka will initially be used for experiments, docking and cargo. It will also serve as a crew work and rest area. Nauka will be equipped with full guidance and navigation control including engines and an attitude control system that can be used as a backup by the ISS. It will be docked onto the Zvezda module's nadir (Earth facing) docking port. Outfitting equipment launched in 2010 with the Rassvet (Mini-Research Module 1) on NASA's STS-132 will also be used for Nauka, including the spare elbow joint for the European Robotic Arm, internal hardware and an experimental airlock to be positioned on one of the side-facing ports at the bottom of the module. The new module will contain crew quarters with life support equipment including atmospheric processing, galley and toilet.[5]

Primary research module[edit]

Nauka will be Russia's primary ISS research module. For some time, NASA's official plans included a second research module around the same size as Nauka, listed to be "under review", but it was eventually cancelled, leaving Nauka to be the only Russian research module besides Rassvet and Poisk (Mini-Research Module 2).


  • Length: 13 metres (42.65 ft)
  • Diameter: 4.11 metres (13.5 ft)
  • Mass: 20,300 kilograms (44,800 lb)
  • Pressurized volume: 70.0 m³

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b О запусках новых российских модулей МКС
  2. ^ a b Роскосмос сообщил НАСА, что модуль МЛМ не войдет в состав МКС в 2014 г.
  3. ^ "02.26.97.iss.memo". 1997. Retrieved July 10, 2008. 
  4. ^ Zak, Anatoly. "Russian segment of the ISS". Retrieved 3 October 2009. 
  5. ^ a b "New money for the old "Science"" (in Russian). 2011-10-19. Retrieved 1 February 2012. 
  6. ^ Morring, Frank (23 May 2012). "Russia Sees Moon Base As Logical Next Step". Aviation Week. Retrieved 29 May 2012. 
  7. ^ "Russia Postpones Space Lab Launch Again". RIA Novosti. 27 November 2013. Retrieved 9 April 2014. 

External links[edit]